Likely resident Lisa Kraus and her husband Ken Smith were at home sleeping on Aug. 4, 2014 when a neighbour telephoned alerting them the Mount Polley Mine had breached.
“We were told to check the lake level in front of our property,” said Kraus, who is also the Likely community co-ordinator.
By 6 a.m., Smith had their boat in the water and went out to see the breach site about eight kilometres away.
“When he got back he said ‘you can’t believe it, there are trees everywhere’,” Kraus said.
Once they’d had breakfast they headed back in the boat with a load of people to see what Kraus described as an “unbelievable pile of debris.”
“We could still hear the water running at 10 a.m. The breach happened at about 1:30,” she recalled.
With the one-year anniversary of the breach just around the corner, Kraus said the water in the lake is clear, but there is still silt in the water, she notices it on her dog who swims in the lake all the time.
“We’ve lived here since 1986 and have always got our water from a spring, never out of the lake,” she added.
Looking back Kraus said it’s been an interesting year and people still have mixed feelings.
“What happened was bad, but we are trying to move forward,” she noted.
“There are still trees and debris coming up from the lake bottom and there will be more because the lake turns twice a year.”
Chuckling she said during a recent day trip to Beehive Island on Quesnel Lake they realized they could tell if debris is pre-breach or not.
“The new trees are white and stripped of their bark,” she said.
Since January, Kraus has been collecting water samples every other week in the same spot from the Likely Bridge for the Ministry of Environment, and using monitoring equipment checks the levels of turbidity and dissolved oxygen.
When she takes the samples she has to report the weather conditions and record if a vehicle, person or a bird goes by.
Mount Polley takes the water samples on the alternate week, she added.